During my keynote at a recent sales kickoff meeting, I opened up the dialogue regarding how salespeople and organizations need to not only create value to separate themselves from their competition, but also the need for a company to prove their value proposition during the sales process. Many organizations express their value on their website or marketing brochures, but fail in this important step of proof.
At this highly “product” driven company the salespeople were really struggling to understand the concept of being unique or what kinds of value they could offer, it was a lively session. In a commodity business it is critical for you to consider value and what really IS value.
It comes down to the fact that without value added, anybody can do what you do, including your competition. Value added is up to the salesperson or organization in making the difference and if it is done right, no one will ever compete with you.
The strategic thought process question that should be asked before every meeting or client situation is: “How can I add value to this opportunity?
There are three steps to adding value:
Understanding your business begins, paradoxically by forgetting your product/service. You’re not the product/services you represent. You sell dreams and you sell solutions, you simply deliver the product/service. As a young salesperson I learned the power of this step — I found out the reason the client was purchasing my computer/software was to enjoy her weekends at the lake cabin. That emotion is what I ended up selling. It is critical you always understand what the compelling reason to purchase is driving your client. I always stress this during sales strategy sessions.
Ask yourself: What actions can I take that will add value to my offerings-that will exceed by clients’ expectations? What can I do that will position me as different from and more valuable than my competition? These can be the big questions that organizations can ponder during a strategic planning session or driven by the salesperson in each unique sales situation.
One client of ours sold heavily on ROI; what we did was assist in creating a sales process where on stage 3 the salesperson would have the client visit our client’s website. The prospective client then would actually enter a few variables into a data entry form. As a result, the CFO of the client’s organization would create a business case for the project; this business case was then presented to the prospective client. This added value, proved the companies value proposition and added a unique phase to the relationship. What kinds of added value actions you can offer is a challenging session and will take time to develop. We suggest group meetings with a variety of employees, customer focus groups and brainstorming sessions during this phase.
How can I bring this idea to my clients? Can I afford to do these things? Does it duplicate any other service we provide? I always suggest that competitors can ‘catch on' to what you are doing, but you don’t want them to 'catch up.' It is critical you continually assess your ideas around the value you are bringing to the sales situation. Every six months schedule a strategy session to evaluate your sales process and your value add services.
It is a challenge to create value but the time and investment will pay huge dividends in revenues and profits. Get creative, open your mind, find your competitive edge and win!
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, his consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world. His book Leading High Performance Sales Teams is a best-seller, and his fifth book, “JAMMED! for New Sales Managers" was published this summer. Ken provides keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.
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